In addition, one clause frequently makes an abstract assertion, while the other paraphrases and exemplifies it, as in Proverbs 25:11–12, from the New Jerusalem Bible.
Like apples of gold inlaid with silver
is a word that is aptly spoken.A golden ring, an ornament of finest gold,
is a wise rebuke to an attentive ear.The Bible 16
Any Biblical reference or literary form carries connotations of truth. Walt Whitman used an opposite style-feature of the Bible, yet for analogous metaphoric reasons. Whereas Whitman used the expansive, proclamatory, litany-based inclusiveness of Biblical structure, Hemingway contracts it, makes chiastic form firm, lean, something solid and workmanlike. He creates blocks of relations that are similar to Cézanne’s strokes and geometric substructure. This hard-boiled solidity is also suggestive of simplicity and truth.
Nänny has “discovered close to a hundred such” chiasmata in Hemingway’s work. He describes them as “formal, quasi poetic structurations submerged under the deceptive verbal surface of his seemingly simple, realistic prose.” 17 In order to make the chiastic structures clear, in his article “Hemingway’s Architecture of Prose: Chiastic Patterns and Their Narrative Functions,” Nänny has taken what are continuous prose texts in Hemingway and broken them into diagrams with the lexical repetitions in bold-face and the semantic repetitions in bold italics. An excellent example is a passage from “Big Two-Hearted River, Part I.”
The river was there. It swirled against the log spiles of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their positions by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time.
He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge.
(... The river was there. It swirled against
1 the log spiles of the bridge. Nick looked
2 down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly
3 watched the
4 trout keeping themselves steady in
5 the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed
their positions by quick angles, only to
6 hold steady in the fast water again.
7 Nick watched them a long time.
7 He watched them
6 holding themselves with their noses into
5 the current, many
4 trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he
3 watched far
2 down through the glassy convex surface of the pool, its surface
pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of
1 the log-driven piles of the bridge.)Max Nänny 18
Similarly, a segment of In Our Time is proven to have chiastic, “quasi-architectural symmetry.”
It was a
1 frightfully hot day. We’d jammed
2 an absolutely perfect barricade across the bridge. It was simply
priceless. A big old wrought-iron grating from the front of a house.
Too heavy to lift and you could
3 shoot through it and
4 they would have to climb over it.
—It was absolutely topping.
4 They tried to get over it, and we
3 potted them from forty yards. They rushed it, and officers came out
alone and worked on it. It was
2 an absolutely perfect obstacle. Their officers were very fine. We were
1 frightfully put out when we heard the flank had gone, and we had
to fall back.Max Nänny 19
As presented in “Hemingway’s Architecture of Prose,” Nänny finds several specific narrative functions for Hemingway's various applications of chiastic structure, including “back and forth movement;” “opposition, symmetry and balance;” “framing;” and “centering.” Most importantly for the theory of central trope, the novelist clearly applies this formal element as an embedded metaphor(m), using it to “mime or enact meaning.” 20
Hence, we come to Hemingway’s central trope. This involves a double-blend, as it features two complementary mappings. Such complexity is described by Fauconnier and Turner in Chapters 14 and 15 of their book The Way We Think, titled respectively “Multiple Blends” and “Multiple-Scope Creativity.” 21 The couplings are far more closely knit in Hemingway’s work than several of Fauconnier and Turner’s examples, such as the “Dracula and His Patients” illustration they draw from a newspaper editorial. 22 Hemingway’s two pairings are so compactly interwoven as to be almost one blend. While I would contend that most metaphor(m)s are more akin to the iconic blend seen above in van Gogh, Hemingway gives an inkling of other, far more intricate or even convoluted possibilities. The conceptual integration of a number of mental image mappings appears to be more frequent and essential in postmodern artworks.
The image-mapping is that of simplicity on trope (metonymy) and
solidity on structure (chiasmus). This, in turn,
plays on the metaphors
TRUTH IS SIMPLE and
SOLID, both of which are viewed through the lens of the
STRUCTURE IS THE OBJECT. This logical sequence
yields the author’s personal central belief: “writing is truth is
life.” His metaphor(m) is “metonymy and chiasmus are solid and
simple, are truth (about life).” He extended this into his
subject matter and many if not most of the other elements of his
writing, generally by analogy. His descriptions, place names,
characters’ names, dialogues and syntax are among the creative
particulars which bear the stamp of his metaphor(m). My point is not
to celebrate the insight of literary critics such as David M. Raabe
who highlighted Hemingway’s metonymic play, nor the insight Nänny
and Hermann offer into his chiastic structuring, but to analyze
these mechanics of his writing in a cognitive sense, thus expanding
our perception of the agonistic and vital purpose they serve in his
writing by seeing the significant way in which they converge in the
author’s central trope. 23
Hemingway made linguistic form spatial and visual in an intricate and coherent
complex of tropes. Foundational metaphors are extended, elaborated
and composed. Telling the truth is one of the most important aspects
(a synecdoche) of morality, thus truth is an elaboration of
MORALITY IS STRAIGHTNESS. Furthermore, straightness is a
metonymy of simplicity. The writer is using many literary elements
metaphorically, but most of all metonymy itself. This is an
unprecedented twist resulting in a great critical metalepsis.
Coherence can be an attribute or extension of truth. Two
foundational metaphors active in our society are
COHERENCE IS ALIGNED. A building or
constructed work of art must be solid, that is, structurally sound,
composed in a thorough fashion.
THEORIES ARE BUILDINGS as
IDEAS ARE CONSTRUCTED OBJECTS are operative at that
point, as applied to literary ideas, most of all to his chiastic
constructions. Extend existence and you have life, one foundational
metaphor is indeed
EXISTENCE IS LIFE, yet another is
EXISTENCE IS HAVING FORM. For the author this meant a very
specific form—his work, his writing. Hemingway has a central trope
with epistemological and ethical implications, a powerful and
broadened rationality of amazing complexity in a writer of
ostensibly astounding simplicity.
These accounts of central trope in van Gogh and Hemingway have put the theory of central trope to the test and, I believe, substantiated its utility.
The diagram of Ernest Hemingway’s Metaphor(m)